If you have fished with us, you have seen Pigeon Key and the Old Seven Mile Bridge first-hand. If you have only dreamed of fishing with us, you have undoubtedly heard about Pigeon Key and the Old Seven Mile Bridge.
The bridge is not only an important piece of Marathon’s history, it is an attraction that draws visitors to Marathon from around the globe.
The Old Seven Mile Bridge was part of Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad that linked Key West with mainland Florida in 1912. It was badly damaged by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, and subsequently refurbished by the United States Federal Government as an automobile highway bridge. It had a swing span that opened to allow passage of boat traffic, near where the bridge crosses Pigeon Key, a small island where a work camp for Flagler’s railroad was located. Hurricane Donna in 1960 caused further damage.
Today, the Old Seven Mile Bridge draws more than 100,000 visitors each year. Walkers, runners and bikers traverse the span to visit Pigeon Key and to take in the vistas it allows of Sombrero Reef Light, the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico waters and the world-famous Florida Keys sunset.
Monroe County staff is sounding the alarm about the future of Pigeon Key and the Old Seven Mile Bridge span that connects it to Marathon. The outlook is dire for funding of bridge repairs required by the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) as well as ferry service to the island.
Pigeon Key Executive Director, Kelly McKinnon, is involved in the creation of a new foundation called SOS, Save Old Seven. The Save Old Seven website envisions a more modest version of the 2.2-mile span that would accommodate pedestrians, a version of the island’s modest train for moving people across the bridge to Pigeon Key and occasional emergency vehicles.
We at SeaSquared Charters urge you to visit the Save Old Seven website and sign their petition. With many events planned for the 100th anniversary of the Overseas Railroad in January 2012, it would be a real shame if Pigeon Key and the Old Seven Mile Bridge were not open.
For more information, please read Marc Phelps’ article on page 12 of the March 11 edition of the Marathon Free Press.